Struggling with Depression

I am taking a break from writing about fun stuff like failed relationships, RVing, reality TV and my hatred of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I’m going to discuss my life a bit and a one-time battle I had with what I figure is depression. I’m going to tell you what I believed triggered it, what happened while I was fully into it and what got me out of it.

I had a telephone discussion with an ex. Mistake because she blames me leaving her for the misery she finds herself in these days. In fact, she finds great pleasure in letting me know all the crap she’s been through is not a result of her refusal to work full time like us savages, but due to the lack of support I gave her. Ok. Normally that wouldn’t ┬ábother me, but this session was different. She blamed me for her not having any children. She told me she wanted to have three children and now she’s too old to have any (she is).

That made me feel bad. Then I thought sticking around her essentially ended my family line. She didn’t say so, but getting pregnant would have been difficult for her. And the fact of the matter is if she truly wanted to have a kid, we would have. Bottom line, you generally start kids with intercourse, and we weren’t having it. At least not with each other.

Anyway, I thought more about it until I could barely do anything. I would go to work, come home and get right into bed. I would lay there and let these “waves of blue” crash into me. Only after talking to a friend did I realize what was happening. She suggested I go see a therapist, which I did not. I was barely functioning but hardly anyone knew.

What got me through it? My cats. I did not always like cats. In fact, I never wanted to be around them. My cats took care of me. One of our cats would curl up next to me while I was in the fetal position. He would sleep next to me and purr. Our other cat, the anti social one, soon became much more friendly. Before long, both of them would come upstairs, get next to me and purr while my life was going into the tank.

Thats why I’m going to cry like a baby when my cats go. I really really owe them.

What snapped me out? Nothing in particular except a desire to get out of the pity party. I did. It was time to stop feeling sorry for myself and start doing something.

Not everyone can do that. Hardly anyone can do that. It’s very hard. Depression is a mo—- f—-r. It can hurt you badly.

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Kaepernick

What’s the bottom line in the NFL? How does your team decide to keep or get rid of players? Is it winning? Is it only winning, or is it image?

It’s some of both, but you cannot have a controversial player on your team. Controversial means activist; evidently you can have a coach who writes endorsements for a candidate and that’s fine. However some teams have players — quarterbacks — who have proven themselves as failures, and apparently that’s ok too, as long as they are non-controversial. BSP views the scrub quarterback who allegedly knows the offense but can’t actually execute it as the highest form of affirmative action.

When Blaine Gabbert & Matt McGloin can get jobs in the NFL, and they’ve lost nearly every game they started — saying a Colin Kaepernick can’t fit into your system is a joke. 

A team brings in Jay Cutler for $10M a season. The same Jay Cutler who may/may not have QUIT on his team in a conference championship game. You tell me its only about winning? LOL. Again, no it’s not. Teams not signing Kaepernick  is clearly fan reaction about Kap’s alleged disrespect to the flag … and to veterans like myself. 

That’s a real LOL. Get serious. Especially since some of these teams like the Jets were making DoD PAY them to honor vets during games. Yes, the military had to pay teams to give the NFL the privilege and image of supporting war veterans.  This isn’t heard from anyone other than the Washington Post, the nation’s best newspaper because they don’t give a f about protecting sacred cows.

Get over yourselves and let Kap play.

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Getting your RV Ready

Before getting into it, if you have any ideas on preparing an RV for a lengthy tour, please leave a message or a URL to your blog. Anything that helps is, well, a help,

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the closing of Gander Mountain. It’s finally down to the last week of our local store, and I’ve taken full advantage of it. I’ve purchased waterproof hiking boots, steel toe boots and comfortable cold weather clothing. We are again making a fall trip to the Northern United States. By the way, those Lacrosse boots I linked to are awesome goodness,  comfortable safety boots. I think I got them for an unheard of $56. 

I am personally ready for the trip. In fact, I think I’m packed already. Now I have to prepare the RV. For that effort, I’m calling upon our dealership to check out the vehicle. They have a deal: three services and you get one free. It’s going to wind up being about $350 – $400 (!) I’m wondering about the true value of the services, because all appears well right now.

The air conditioner check is mandatory, because you can’t RV in Texas without a/c. Well, you can but life will absolutely suck in a hot ass box. It’s possible if you are one of those restaurant patio dwellers; the people who eat outside when it’s 98 degrees and bugs flying everywhere, when it’s cool, bug-free and empty inside. One of my colleagues says no a/c isn’t too bad. He’s making it up. It’s essential for us southern dwellers.

Next is the furnace. If you are going north in Fall, you should have a working furnace … or a lot of blankets and sleeping bags. When we went to Yellowstone, the temperatures dropped into the 20’s our first night. We had heard RV’s don’t use much propane. We found out that was false, ours went through the remainder of our 1st can that night. It was 52 degrees in our trailer that morning. My menopausal wife was like, oh, this is great! No it wasn’t. Seeing your breath in your trailer is not great! The propane isn’t a big deal, but our center vent in the floor blows no air. Never has, including last year when we had it checked. We need to figure it out, whether it’s a fault or we don’t know how to make it work.

Roof patching: A critical issue with RVs is the roof and the potential for leaks. We keep ours parked underneath a roof so we wouldn’t know whether it leaked until we took it on a trip and it rained. So the dealer will look at the roof and patch it if they see a potential leak.

Water heater: the water heater is about the last problem you want on a trip. In fact, I created a problem when I didn’t turn the cold water valve after I sanitized the water system. An icy shower changes your mind about a lot of things in a hurry. A clean and operational water heater is a necessity, especially if you cook your own meals.

One option for us is a refrigerator check, but I think we will pass this time. We haven’t had much of a problem with the refrigerator, plus we carry a Pelican cooler. I should mention this: Pelican coolers IMHO are better than Yetis. The military uses Pelican equipment downrange (AFG, Iraq). They are tough as hell and made in the USA. They are not cheap and they are not lightweight, but they are as good as I could find.

 One thing I thought about was ICE. I do not use ice in our cooler, I use ice packs. 

Tundra ice pack


While these babies do not get down into every crevice, they are colder than ice. These Tundra ice packs are at 5 degrees. Ice packs are much less messy and you can reuse them. In fact you can use your freezer to re-freeze the ice packs. No ice water to pour out at the end of a trip, and it’s easier to clean out the cooler. Good ice packs are not cheap either. You get what you pay for, though. We bought cheap $2 ice packs and after a couple of uses, some kind of goo was coming out of a couple of them.

A second option for us is packing wheel bearings. I spoke to a RV service manager near us. He told  us they would do the work but it would be unnecessary unless we had been traveling in the 80-100,000 mile range. We have travelled closer to 8,000 miles. So we’ll pass on that. 

Tire checks are mandatory. I run the trailer by Discount Tire for a pressure check and tire inspection no more than three days before departure. What they do is cursory but gives us a feeling of security. If there is a problem, they will replace the tire. I’m never going to say this for sure helps us but I think it does: Never inflate the tires to the maximum air pressure or you will have problems. I underinflate them by about 10 percent. The tires typically will heat up due to road friction; if they are already at the max … expect problems. You don’t want to get into the engineering of the tires and “red lines.” Especially RV tires since they are cheap Chinese tires anyway. If Michelin made tires for my RV I would buy a set immediately.

I used to seriously baby the tires before we put the RV under the roof. I used to drive my RV onto some wood boards to get them up off the asphalt. My theory is, this kept the tires from getting heated up and weakened by sitting in the same place for long periods of time. A colleague stated RV tires are engineered for sitting but what I was doing was smart because of moisture. Water is the enemy of tires. By getting the tires off the asphalt, it prevented lengthy exposure to water when it rains. That’s something I should resume doing.

Always check your lights before departure. Due to military service, I always do light and brake  checks on the tow vehicle and RV while we are at home.

One of my colleagues noticed a turn signal on his RV didn’t work, so he replaced the bulb. It still didn’t work so he started spark chasing. After determining his RV lights worked, he found his tow vehicle (Ram 1500) has a separate circuit for the trailer lights and it had blown a fuse. The turn signal on the truck still worked but not the one powering the RV turn signal. Easy fix, but not so easy to resolve.

Again, if you have any helpful tips, I’d certainly appreciate them.

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I Considered Climbing Mount Everest


Photo by Getty

Isn’t it beautiful? Awe inspiring?

I once had a strong desire towards climbing Mount Everest. I knew I had the physical and mental capability for making that trip, successfully climbing to the top of the mountain and actually getting down off the mountain, an utterly overlooked process. 

I visited a friend in San Antonio in the early 2000’s; while there I saw the movie inspired by Jon Krakauer’s book,  “Into Thin Air.” After that viewing, I said “f*** that.” The first being that people can and do die up there, even without screwing up. Bad weather, a step in the wrong place, an earthquake … you are dead. Not only do you die, hundreds of other people now making that trip see your frozen lifeless corpse there, unable to be moved due to the difficult task of removing the carcass. Oh, did I mention the wind, and the chance to pay > $50,000 to die there? Like I said, f that.
I once had a climb of Mount Everest on my bucket list. No more. Brave, gifted climbers have an eternal resting place on that mountain. I decided I didn’t want it to be the last thing  done on my bucket list. I’d take up just about anything else before 8500 meter mountain climbing.

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The Current Top Five List of Giant Bags

Otherwise known as the Douchebag Hall of Fame, As you know, this blog pays attention to people who are big douchebags. Some of these people are well accomplished. Most are famous for talking, and especially for their often off-base statements. Virtually all of them are “That Guy. You know, the jerk.”

How do you know someone’s a giant bag? There’s no set criterion. YOU KNOW. The thing is, they are so easy to tell. Our main problem is narrowing the list down to a small select few. One way is by eliminating politicians. You have to be a gas bag to be a politician, whether you are or not. People automatically like or dislike you. 

An actor or musician is fair game, but they have to be special. Actor Y leaving the country because X gets elected is a douche move but so many of them give their unwanted opinions, it’s hard for one to stand out.

A female bag? It’s almost impossible. Females take image too seriously to come off being a douche. 

Without further ado, let’s get to the Big Five:

5. Stephen A. Smith

We loved Stephen A., until he became Screamin’ A. Dude, that’s a microphone in front of you. It’s there so you can be heard. As anti-Cowboys as I am, and I am, his screed after the Cowboys latest playoff failure … the loss to Green Bay where he created an entire show over the latest “disaster waiting to happen” … was, although a glorious start eventually too much, even for me. It’s true not every white person who does something jacked up is a flaming racist, either.

4. Skip Bayless

ESPN

Everyone knows Skip Bayless is a giant douche, but he revels in his baggery. Absolutely celebrates it. His glory years were with Stephen A. on First Take, so that’s how they get 5th and 4th place on this list. Skip targets LeBron James, one of the greatest basketball players if not the greatest basketball player in history, on a regular basis. Such senseless takes quite clearly make him a bag in our book.

Skip’s undying love for the Dallas Cowboys bumps him up ahead of Smith. That and his belief (although unstated) Troy Aikman was/is gay works him up the list. Not that being gay is a bad thing, but if he was, Troy could have told us himself.

3. Jerry Jones

A no doubt about it, first ballot Douchebag Hall of Famer, Jones has actually been elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. So goes the belief that halls of Fame (besides this one) mean anything. It’s a total joke, because the only thing he did was make them more money off a sport that virtually was a billion dollar printing press. I wonder if they’ll pull him from the Hall when the league’s ratings begin to tumble even further. 

No one likes a camera on his face more than Jones. For our sake, we wish he’d turn away from the camera in order to keep tears out of our eyes. When Douche Nation becomes a country, Jerry Jones’ face is going to be on the hundred bag bill.

2. LaVar Ball

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The fact he had children and they appear to be somewhat successful does not make him a good parent. The fact Ball is marketing them like they are the Second Coming makes him a gigantic douche. By anyone’s standard, LaVar Ball is a first rate douche. He accelerates his baggery into the stratosphere by making claims which simply are not true. He claims he could beat Mike Jordan 1 on 1. Ok. Now he’s saying Lonzo Ball is going to get The Lakers into the playoffs. LOL.

People are rooting for Ball’s kids to fail because of him. His marketing tactic is unlikely to succeed, except among people who want to sell Ball’s overpriced stuff on EBay as a collectors item. It is rare to see someone skyrocket to the top of this list, far past luminaries like Phil Jackson, Kevin Durant, Coach K., Daniel Snyder and Chad (any guy named Chad is a bag). LaVar Ball makes it look easy.

1. Alex Rodriguez

Pay-Rod the Juice is at the top of this DB list. He’s the Babe Ruth of Bag-dom. Not only is he a first ballot DB Hall of Famer, he’s the first person into the DB Hall of Fame. Did you know Rodriguez made almost $400 million playing baseball? What makes that number even more astounding is the fact he made nearly $100 million more than the next highest paid player! Although at BSP HQ, his pay really doesn’t matter. BSP believes if you get paid, you deserve to be paid.

It’s all (bad) attitude. How do you cheat on J-Lo? It’s not possible to us, not even something that should be considered. But Pay-Rod the Juice not only cheated on one of BSP’s world’s most beautiful women, he cheated baseball by jabbing himself with Beef-Roids, allegedly cheated on his wife Cynthia with Madonna and now allegedly cheated on J-Lo. The guy has no boundaries. 

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Your First RV Should Be Used

One of my coworkers is a blabbermouth and thinks he knows everything. He keeps telling me, anyone else who would listen and some that don’t if you’re getting an RV, your first one should be used.

He rarely if ever follows up with answers like “why?”

I thought about it because my first RV was a new one, and I’ve never regretted it. Meanwhile, he purchased a used RV, a 5th wheel and it gave him all kinds of problems. Once he was towing it and the awning deployed. Yes, the awning. He had to find some tie down straps and strap them around the entire trailer to get where he was going. The air conditioner kept going out … this is Texas and you can’t have that! I’ve not had a major problem with mine. 

You can indeed have problems with your first RV if it is new, but you have to know the systems. If you have mechanical ability or you are a good student in that area, you’re probably going to be ok.

I carry a tote containing spare parts for RV systems. Check this out: we had our lock go bad, and   we couldn’t get in the thing. We did manage to break into it, but once we got inside, we couldn’t open the door. While my wife took apart the lock from the inside, I retrieved the spare lock I had in that tote. We installed it and it was like nothing happened. 

You have to be ready for stuff like that.

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How Much Can I Tow With My Truck?

Saw a couple of YouTube videos on how much can I tow.

Ah, I lost the other video, but that’s ok.

 The two guys who did them; one was a truck/RV expert, the other was a person just doing videos about the various aspects of RVing. They both got it right: 

You can tow as much as you are supposed to tow.

Every vehicle has a label on the door that tells you how much weight that can be applied to it. The owners manual tells the same story. You can make mods to beef up the truck, but you cannot reset what the manufacturer says the truck can tow.

Part of the issue is Truck manufacturers like to say how much their best trucks can tow. Unfortunately for us, you have to turn into a researcher to figure out which model and which features are required to make your truck capable of towing a certain amount.

For instance, my truck is a 2015 Ram 2500. The specs for the truck say it can tow (when properly equipped) 17,180 lbs. The manufacturer specs also say it has a 2360 lb payload capacity.

The truck’s tire specs say otherwise.

I originally had photos of the labels in my truck but they contain my VIN. 

This tag, which you should ALWAYS go by that says the combined weight of occupants and cargo should never exceed 2088 lbs. 

Cargo means you, your passengers, and whatever you are carrying. In the case of a 5th wheel, that means the weight that’s put on your truck by the hitch. So if you have 500 lbs to carry in people and gear, your hitch cannot put more than 1588 lbs. 

If you can find a 5th wheel hitch that puts only 1588 lbs on your truck, let me know, I’ll be in the market for it. Something you should know about about 5th wheels is they need to put weight on that hitch, because their axles can’t support the weight of the vehicle. For instance, a 5th wheel might weigh 14000 lbs but their axles can support only 12000 lbs (combined). To support that 2000 lbs, that’s what your truck does. The numbers manufacturers put on those travel trailers and 5th wheels really matter too. 

None of that matters when you’re in the dealership, except possibly to you. The salesman knows every aspect of the RV you are looking at.  Despite this, he’s going to tell you of course, your truck can tow this RV. As a matter of fact, other people with this same vehicle have towed the same RV with it! So you buy it, realizing that of course, there’s always a margin within the engineering; that a vehicle manufacturer like Ford, FCA or GM could put a few extra hundred pounds of capability but don’t list it. The problem is, the manufacturer won’t stick up for you if you have an accident or get pulled over. 

I mentioned the engineering aspect. There’s some truth to this. The point where vehicle weight (GVWR) start going commercial is 10,001 lbs. So the manufacturer lists their GVWR as 10,000 lbs. For my vehicle, the GVWR is 10,000 lbs. The GAWR is 6,000 lbs and 6,500 lbs respectively. So from a technical standpoint, the vehicle SHOULD be capable of  almost 5,000 lbs of cargo. Except for the 10,000 lb GVWR limit, and some suspension and tire issues, that would be the case.

So, this rather lengthy post deals with ensuring what your vehicle is capable of, and being safe when you are towing. Always go by the manufacturer’s number and go by the lower number when those numbers conflict.

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Goodbye to Gander Mountain

Some of you know the sporting goods store Gander Mountain is going out of business. I was one of those people sad to see Gander Mountain shutting down. It was an option for those of us into the outdoors, for things we really needed. Before we went to Yellowstone, we obtained some of our outerwear and footwear from Gander Mountain. After all, they were the only nearby sporting goods store in South Texas that carried cold-weather gear.

Which in part led to their downfall. All the stores apparently had the same gear — cold weather clothing. A store in Duluth MN had the same gear as a store in Houston, TX. It doesn’t take a genius to realize a place that has a for-real winter like the North Central US isn’t like the Southern US where there are only two months of sub-50 degree weather.

Then Gander Mountain revealed itself for … itself.

In February, one of my co-workers mentioned Gander Mountain was filing for bankruptcy. I was not totally surprised by this, since the store was almost always empty except for the gun counter. I was surprised by Gander Mountain’s sales tactics. I purchased a firearm from Gander Mountain AFTER they announced they were “restructuring.” I had even spoken to the salesperson who sold me the firearm about the so-called restructuring. They were closing almost all of their stores in Texas. The salesperson wanted to sell me a service plan. Now why would you need a service plan from a store that’s going out of business? Then this guy says to me, a “3-year service plan is only a little more than a 1-year service plan.” I’m like, ok buddy, I see you’re in this for yourself. So am I. I notice the service plan offers 3 free cleanings, but doesn’t have a time limit on it. So after I buy the thing, I fire it at the range. I run about 200 rounds through it, and immediately take it back to Gander Mountain for cleaning and servicing. Then I bring my other firearm that my wife had bought me, over to Gander Mountain for cleaning and servicing. The same salesperson is like starting to make excuses, like they have a lot of guns in for cleaning. I’m like ok, I can wait. Now, Gander Mountain won’t take firearms for cleaning or service; a fact my wife found out for herself when she called them to ask about it.

Another one of their less scrupulous sales tactics is marking stuff down in an area without actually putting it in their systems. Because they have no scanners in the store, you won’t know the Gander Mountain price without going to the cashier. I had already thought about writing this, but going over there today put me over the top. I wanted to buy some shoes — they actually have some good deals on shoes IF you can find your size and what you want. So they have a sign saying 40% off trail and hiking shoes. I asked the cashier to scan the shoes and it came out to 30% off. I brought back the 40% sign and asked for the discount. She didn’t even bother arguing; she just marked it off 40%. It was only $6, but that’s seemingly part of their strategy. If it isn’t a whole lot of money, people will just give up and pay more. I wouldn’t say this is a strategy if I didn’t have some evidence. Last week, I purchased a pull over — imagine, buying a pull over in San Antonio Texas in June — for 50% off. Except it only came out to 40% off. The cashier said it was a mistake; they just marked it down and they hadn’t had time to put it into the system. Ok, the difference between the prices was supposedly small enough that the cashier told me to go find something else to make up the difference. I was wandering around the store trying to find something in Gander Mountain for $8.00. Almost everything at that price was sold out.

Which gets me to another point. Gander Mountain was and is expensive. Expensive meaning, I could find whatever clothing they sold at Academy for about half to 2/3rds of the price. When Gander Mountain announced they were selling off their merchandise, I immediately went to see what they did to their pricing. Gander Mountain ditched all the sales they had advertised, brought their pricing back up, then gave you 20-50% off. In other words, the merchandise sell off was getting prices to the Academy level. Naturally San Antonians were suckered into the place and ransacked it looking for non-existent cheap stuff.

One item I really wanted were Coleman flashlights. I wasn’t going to buy any until the price went down. Gander Mountain was selling these flashlights for $19, then to $17. On their website, they were selling them for $10! They dropped the price to $15, then they went away. I assume they sent them to another store because no one was buying them.

I’ve now seen where Camping World’s CEO has purchased the Gander Mountain name, and claims he will re-open up to 70 of the old stores. Interesting since Camping World isn’t cheap, either. What Camping World has going for it is the niche market of RVers who know Wal-Mart doesn’t have everything an RVer needs readily available. The CEO mentioned Gander Mountain had purchased too much merchandise, which is true. The store here in San Antonio is going to be open until August, so they are shipping other stuff in from other Gander Mountains. In the meantime, I hope they do a better job than the previous corporation. They pretty much sent a store with a good reputation into the toilet.

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